The Side Effects of Nitric Oxide Supplements

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A woman is taking a red and yellow supplement. (Image: fotyma/iStock/Getty Images)

Nitric oxide, or NO, supplements are made up of L-arginine (L-arg, arginine hydrochloride, Sargenor, Spedifen), a compound that your body then converts into NO after consumption. It is used in supplements to cause blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation), which might benefit people at risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there are side effects associated with nitric oxide use, so you should only take it under a doctor's supervision.

Blood Pressure Changes

Because nitric oxide affects blood vessels, a decrease in blood pressure is a potential side effect. Symptoms associated with low blood pressure include headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting and loss of balance. These symptoms may be worse when standing from a sitting position or when urinating. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Stomach Discomfort

Medline Plus states that stomach discomfort is a side effect of nitric oxide supplements. Symptoms include nausea, stomach cramps or an increase in the number of stools. It is best to take this supplement with food to avoid stomach discomfort. Consult your doctor immediately if you are experiencing stomach discomfort with nitric oxide use.

Changes in Body Electrolytes

Nitric oxide supplements may change the chemical environment of your body. This can result in high potassium, high chloride, low sodium, low phosphate, high blood urea nitrogen and high creatinine levels. You should not use nitric oxide supplements if you have kidney or liver disease. These organs regulate electrolytes and may be sensitive to side effects of nitric oxide supplement use.

Increased Bleeding

Medline Plus states that nitric oxide supplements may increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, you should ask your doctor about using nitric oxide supplements if you have a bleeding disorder or are using blood-thinning medications (aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin, heparin or lovenox).

Arginine Injection

Your doctor may give you an arginine injection to increase nitric oxide levels in your body. Common side effects of this injection, according to Medline Plus, include low back pain, flushing, headache, numbness, restless legs, irritation of the veins and death of the tissues surrounding the injection site. You may place an ice pack on the injection site as needed for pain. Consult your doctor if these symptoms do not resolve.

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